Flicks With Nicki – A review about the show that parodies the movies based on the books about the women in psychological thrillersNicki Salcedo. Photo by Fox Gradin.
I read thrillers. If you’re stuck in an airport, book options are limited to small-town romances and spy novels. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a psychological thriller. Psychological thrillers are usually about white affluent women in peril. The horror is suburbia, and the trauma is the mundane. Husband. Children. Medication. Carpool. Wine. Put a damaged woman at the heart of the story and let the weird stuff start happening.
The weird stuff is a rainy night, a casserole dish, and murder.
If you aren’t familiar with the genre, the Netflix series “The Woman in the House Across the Street From the Girl in the Window” will baffle you. Unlike a traditional mystery, thrillers involve a regular person trying to solve a crime. We don’t need police officers and detectives. More importantly, it’s a parody. The title sends a signal to readers like me who enjoyed the books “Gone Girl,” “The Girl on the Train,” and “The Woman in Cabin 10.”
Women in thriller novels inspired “The Woman in the House Across the Street From the Girl in the Window.” A parody is an homage to something. Arthurian legend inspired the movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” “Star Wars” inspired “Spaceballs.”
Satire and parody sometimes get confused. The movie “Don’t Look Up” is political satire. Satire serves as a critical eye. Climate change, political discourse, and obtuse people. Satire might be funny, but it is meant to illuminate the truth.
Parody serves a different function. It shines the light on something without judgement. Genre fiction thrives on tropes. Tropes feed parody. We see the high school sweetheart in romance. We see the chosen one in science fiction. We see the bad cop in crime stories. We see a lone vigilante in action movies. We see a broken woman in thrillers. “The Woman in the House Across the Street From the Girl in the Window” touches on every diabolical and funny trope we normally find in thrillers.
Anna (Kristen Bell) grieves the death of her child and the end of her marriage. She drinks too much. She takes too many pills. She watches the world from inside her house. When a handsome father (Tom Riley) moves in across the street, Anna is eager to forge a bond with the new family. Unfortunately, she discovers that the man has a girlfriend. One night, Anna witnesses the girlfriend being murdered.
The cast of characters includes a Stoic cop, mean moms, stable best friend, adorable child, quirky handyman, con man, and ex-husband (Michael Ealy). Was there a murder, or did Anna imagine it all? Did she commit the murder, or did someone else? Kristen Bell is a perfect lead for this farcical tale. Anna is sweet and doe eyed, but an unreliable narrator.
When I was a kid, the most horrifying thing I could imagine was a campsite in the woods near the shack where a serial killer lives. Now the most horrifying things I can imagine are carpool on a rainy day, the grocery store before a snowstorm, and a sink full of dirty dishes. For a new generation of women, these psychological thrillers are a release. What if the mother next door is a murderer? How many glasses of wine is too many?
Murder is not what we are afraid of. I fear grief, depression, and no one believing me. Domesticity is horrifying. “The Woman in the House Across the Street From the Girl in the Window” pushes things further. It is a thriller set to volume 10. We read and watch these stories for our enjoyment. How messed up is that? But also, how fun.
In “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” there’s a scene where two knights are fighting. One knight is losing appendages left and right, literally. “Tis but a scratch,” we hear and “…it’s a flesh wound.” It’s gruesome, yes. But also, funny when you’re in the mood for it. I found “The Woman in the House Across the Street From the Girl in the Window” a perfect parody of a genre I enjoy.
Find it on Netflix in eight episodes of only 30 minutes each. The series with an exceptionally long title is for a specific audience. “The Woman in the House Across the Street From the Girl in the Window” is worth a watch if you enjoy twisted humor. Either you won’t get it or you already like this genre and will laugh at the parody. A cop lays down the law. The handyman does something creepy. There are sounds in the house at night, and of course she lives alone. Anna keeps pouring these oversized glasses of wine. I found the show accurate and funny. Over the top. Awkward. Smart. You will never look at rain or casseroles the same way again. Do you believe me? Grade B+
Nicki Salcedo is a Decatur resident and Atlanta native. She is a novelist, blogger, and a working mom.
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